Golf balls come in a variety of colors, but white and yellow are by far the most common. As an amateur golfer, you may wonder if there is any real difference between the two colors, or if it is purely an aesthetic choice. In this article, we will examine the differences between white and yellow golf balls in terms of performance, visibility, price, regulations, and personal preference.
When it comes to performance, there are some slight differences between white and yellow golf balls. Here are the key factors to consider:
- Spin – Yellow balls generally have a slightly lower spin rate off the clubface than white balls. This lower spin can translate into a little bit more distance, but potentially less control around the greens.
- Visibility – The high visibility of yellow balls means they are easier to spot and track in flight. This can be handy for tracking errant shots.
- Durability – Tests indicate that white balls hold up slightly better over time and resist scuffing more than yellow balls.
- Light conditions – Yellow balls tend to work better in low light conditions, whereas white is better suited to bright sunny days.
Overall, the performance differences between properly constructed white and yellow balls are quite small. The largest difference is visibility, with yellow having a noticeable edge.
As noted above, visibility is the main performance advantage of yellow golf balls over white ones. The high contrast of the yellow against grass, trees, water and sky makes it much easier to follow the ball in flight. Here are some key visibility factors:
- Tracking shots – With a yellow ball, you can quickly spot exactly where your ball lands, even on errant shots into rough or hazards.
- Spotting on green – On approaches and chip shots, a yellow ball pops out more against the green to help gauge distances.
- Low light – Fading light conditions in the early morning or evening make white balls harder to follow, so yellow works better.
- Spectators – For amateur events or playing with friends, yellow balls allow spectators to easily track shots.
In summary, yellow balls offer much higher visibility without sacrificing significant performance – a big advantage for amateur golfers. However, visibility may be less important for professional players who consistently strike the ball well.
Consumer-level white and yellow golf balls are typically very close in price at major retailers. For example, Titleist DT TruSoft white and yellow balls retail for $19.99 per dozen. Bridgestone E6 Soft white and yellow balls cost $24.99 per dozen. So there is no significant price penalty for choosing one color over the other.
However, tour-quality urethane covered balls like the Titleist Pro V1 show more pricing separation. A dozen Pro V1 white balls retails for $47.99, while the yellow version costs $52.99, a 10% premium.
For budget-minded amateur players, the pricing parity of non-premium distance balls make the yellow option very appealing for the visibility benefits without added cost.
Regulations on Ball Color
Under the Rules of Golf, yellow balls are legal for stroke play and match play tournaments. Here are some key regulations to note:
- Any color ball can be used other than orange, which is reserved for temporary balls in some formats.
- In competitive stroke play, balls must all be of the same brand and type. Mixing colors is not allowed.
- For match play competitions, different colored balls are permitted if all players in the match agree.
- In team competitions, each team must use balls of the same brand and type if they are sharing a ball (ex: four-ball).
In general, the Rules of Golf place very few restrictions around ball color. So both white and yellow are equally acceptable colors in tournament play.
With minimal performance differences and pricing parity across most non-premium balls, the choice between white and yellow really comes down to personal preference for most amateurs. Here are some factors that may guide your personal choice:
- Visibility – If you struggle to track shots consistently, yellow can really help.
- Aesthetics – Traditionalists still prefer the clean look of white, but yellow provides more flair.
- Play conditions – If you play early or late, yellow performs better in low light.
- Superstition – Some golfers have a “lucky” ball color preference beyond performance.
You may also choose different colors depending on the specific course. For example, a yellow ball can help on courses with dense rough or hazards. There is no universally superior color, so test both and see what works for your eye and your game.
In summary, yellow and white golf balls have very minor performance differences. The one clear advantage of yellow balls is visibility, allowing you to more easily track shots in various conditions. With pricing being very similar for most models, the choice often comes down to a matter of personal preference around aesthetics, superstition, and playing conditions.
Here is a quick reference table summarizing the key differences:
|Same as yellow (for most models)
|Same as white (for most models)
We hope this overview gives you a better understanding of how white and yellow golf balls compare. Test them both yourself and see which provides the right mix of performance, feel and visibility to optimize your game.